Temperate Australasia Region

The Temperate Australasia Region includes the temperate waters around south-western, southern, and south-eastern Australia along with those surrounding New Zealand. It is bounded by the Western Indo-Pacific to the north-west and the Central Indo-Pacific to the north and north-east.


Species and subspecies

Hector’s dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori) is a notably small species and the only dolphin endemic to New Zealand waters, where it has one of the most restricted ranges of any cetacean. There are two subspecies. The nominate form, C. h. hectori, is the more numerous, being found in shallow coastal waters around South Island and much of North Island. The Maui dolphin (C. h. maui) is confined to an area of northwestern North Island, where the total population is thought to be around 55–60. Both are threatened mainly by accidental entanglement in gillnets and human disturbance.

The ginger carpetshark (Parascyllium sparsimaculatum) is known only from an area between Fremantle and Cape Leeuwin off the southern coast of Western Australia. The elongated carpetshark (P. elongatum) is known only from a single specimen collected from the stomach of a school shark (Galeorhinus galeus) near Chatham Island, Western Australia in 1990.

The western gulper shark (Centrophorus westraliensis) is a deep-water species endemic to south-western Australia, from Shark Bay to Cape Leeuwin. Harrisson’s gulper shark (C. harrissoni) is patchily distributed along the eastern coast of Australia from southern Queensland to Tasmania, along with a few seamounts in the Tasman Sea. It has been seriously impacted by deep-sea trawling.

The bighead catshark (Apristurus bucephalus) is known only from two specimens collected in deep waters off Western Australia.

McMillan’s catshark (Parmaturus macmillani) is a small, rare, and little-known species endemic to the deep waters of the lower continental slope around New Zealand.

The blotched catshark (Asymbolus funebris) is known only from a single specimen collected off Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia.

Ogilby’s ghostshark (Hydrolagus ogilbyi) is now apparently confined to the coastal waters of south-eastern Australia, although museum records indicate that it was formerly much more widespread.

Sherwood’s dogfish (Scymnodalatias sherwoodi) is known only from five specimens, two collected in Australian waters (south-western Australia and Tasmania) and the other off south-eastern New Zealand.

The southern mandarin dogfish (Cirrhigaleus australis) is known only from the coastal waters of south-eastern Australia including Tasmania and from northern New Zealand, but may be more wide-ranging. Its body shape makes it particularly vulnerable to capture in nets and trawls.

The shortspine chimaera (Chimaera obscura) is known only from three specimens collected from the continental slope off New South Wales.

The leopard chimaera (Chimaera panthera) is endemic to the ocean ridges off northern New Zealand (Lord Howe Rise, West Norfolk Ridge, Colville Ridge, and Richie Banks).

The small-spined deep-sea skate (Brochiraja microspinifera) is confined to the eastern coast of North Island, New Zealand. The whitelip deep-sea skate (B. albilabiata) is known only from a handful of specimens collected in the vicinity of Three Kings Trough, northern New Zealand.

The longnose skate (Dipturus confusus) is found along the south-eastern Australian coast from Sydney, New South Wales to Portland, Victoria, including the waters surrounding Tasmania. It is frequently caught as fisheries by-catch and has declined dramatically in recent years. Two other species, the Sydney skate (D. australis) from coastal central-eastern Australia and the grey skate (D. canutus) from the southeastern coast, are similarly threatened.

The Melbourne skate (Spiniraja whitleyi) is widely but patchily distributed in the coastal waters of southern and south-eastern Australia, where it is highly vulnerable to localized fishing.

The ghost skate (Notoraja hirticauda) is confined to a few localities on the central coast of Western Australia.

The pygmy thornback skate (Dentiraja flindersi) is known only from Investigator Strait and Backstairs Passage, off the coast of Kangaroo Island, South Australia.

The Maugean skate (Zearaja maugeana) is unique among skates in being entirely restricted to brackish estuarine waters, and is known only from disjunct localities (Macquarie and Bathurst harbours on the west coast of Tasmania). The total population is estimated at less than 1000.

The sandyback stingaree (Urolophus bucculentus) is confined to the coastal waters of eastern and south-eastern Australia, where it is threatened by incidental by-catch.

The pygmy scorpionfish (Scorpaenodes scaber) is known only from two specimens collected from Shark Reef, off southeastern Australia.

The longtail weed whiting (Siphonognathus tanyourus) is known only from a few museum specimens collected off the southern coast of Australia.

The smooth handfish (Sympterichthys unipennis) was a type of anglerfish historically endemic to the coastal waters of Tasmania, where it appears to have been fairly common. The reasons for its decline remain unclear, although it was likely due to the intensive scallop and oyster fishery in operation during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It was formally declared extinct in 2018, the first entirely marine fish to be classified as such.

The spotted handfish (Brachionichthys hirsutus) is confined to the Derwent River estuary and nearby areas of south-eastern coastal Tasmania.

The pink handfish (Brachiopsilus dianthus) was long known only from three localities of south-eastern Tasmania, where it was rediscovered in 2021 after several decades.

The sunburnt hogfish (Bodianus solatus) is confined to a small area off Western Australia.

The seven-banded wrasse (Thalassoma septemfasciatum) is known only from a few historical records from Western coastal Australia, between Shark Bay and Perth.

The striped trawl wrasse (Suezichthys bifurcatus) is a small, rare species from southern and western Australia.

The western blue wrasse (Achoerodus gouldii) is known only from coastal reefs in southern and south-western Australia, where it is subject to heavy fishing pressure.

Braun’s senator wrasse (Pictilabrus brauni) is known only from five specimens collected from a reef off Cheyne’s Beach, in south-western Western Australia.

The Hawkesbury River dartfish (Parioglossus marginalis) is confined to brackish waters in the Hawkesbury River estuary, New South Wales. Specimens have also been collected on North Island, New Zealand, but are believed to have been transported there in ship ballast water.

The spotted snake-blenny (Ophiclinops pardalis) is confined to a small area of coastal South Australia.

The eel blenny (Peronedys anguillaris) is known only from a few museum specimens collected in disjunct areas of southeastern Australia.

The bullneck seahorse (Hippocampus minotaur) is known only from a few specimens collected from south-eastern Australia.

The western crested pipefish (Mitotichthys meraculus) is confined to seagrass meadows in the vicinity of Flinders Bay and Perth, Western Australia.

The southern little pipehorse (Acentronura australe) is known only from a few specimens collected in disjunct seagrass areas of southern and western Australia.

The ruby seadragon (Phyllopteryx dewysea) is known only from four specimens collected from two disjunct localities off the south-western coast of Australia (Recherche Archipelago and Perth region).

The bootlace hagfish (Nemamyxine elongata) is a freshwater and marine species known only from two museum specimens collected from New Zealand.

The goliath hagfish (Eptatretus goliath) is an eel-like species known only from Hauraki Canyon off New Zealand.

The longfin hagfish (E. longipinnis) is known only from a handful of specimens collected from a small area off the south-eastern coast of South Australia.

The darklip snailfish (Paraliparis atrolabiatus) and the sharkmouth snailfish (P. plagiostomus) are both known only from the western coast of Tasmania.

The slender barracundina (Lestidiops gracilis) is a deep-sea fish confined to the eastern coast of New Zealand.

The Naturaliste Plateau

The Naturaliste Plateau is one of several large submarine plateaus extending from south-western Australia into the Indian Ocean. The water depths range from 1500 to 5000 m.

The abyssal skate (Bathyraja ishiharai) is known only from two specimens collected at 2300 m depth on the Naturalist Plateau.

The Tasman Sea

The Tasman Sea (Te Tai-o-Rehua in Maori) is located in the South Pacific Ocean between south-eastern Australia and New Zealand. Its most notable feature is the Lord Howe Island Seamount Chain.

The yellowback stingaree (Urolophus sufflavus) and the greenback stingaree (U. viridis) are both confined to coastal south-eastern Australia, where they are threatened by incidental by-catch from trawling.

The Tasman Sea spiderfish (Bathypterois oddi) is a deep-sea species known only from a few specimens collected off the southern coast of New Zealand. It may also occur off South Australia.

The Eos hagfish (Eptatretus eos) is an eel-like species known only from a single specimen collected in the Tasman Sea.

The Great Australian Bight

The Great Australian Bight is a large open bay located off the southern coast of Australia.

The coastal stingaree (Urolophus orarius) is a rare species confined to the eastern part of the Great Australian Bight. It is threatened by trawling by-catch.


Anthropogenic effects on the fauna

In recent historical time (i.e. since ad 1500), the Temperate Australasia Region has lost at least 1 species of marine fish. In addition, there are 51 species/1 subspecies currently threatened with extinction (that is to say, either Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable according to the IUCN Red List, as well as certain forms either listed as DataDeficient or Not Assessed butwhich are clearly at some risk of extinction). Of these, 1 species/1 subspecies are mammals and 50 species are marine fishes.